Planning a corporate retirement takes on new complexity in a remote working world

Company retreats have long represented opportunities for staff members to come together in a relaxed setting to carry out professional tasks. But organizing such gatherings poses a challenge for companies that have transitioned to remote operations during the pandemic, as they struggle to find the right balance between staff ties, work and time for staff who wants to focus on wellness.

These gatherings take on greater relevance when workers no longer have the daily face-to-face interactions.

“Internal meetings and corporate retreats are becoming increasingly important,” said Linda McNairy, Americas vice president for meetings and events at American Express Global Business Travel, which is an agency with a stake in the ground.

Indeed, new questions arise about how pensions are technically organised, how employees benefit from them and who is responsible for them in the first place. So to help answer these questions, travel agencies and specialized startups are mobilizing to play a role in this new type of post-Covid business travel.

Amex GBT’s McNairy says their success is a collaborative effort, shared by the “remote control manager” (currently a high-demand job) and the department or team leader who is responsible for the meeting.

“The role of the ‘remote manager’ is to work cross-functionally within an organization to understand the environment and help shape the organization’s ability to manage a distributed or remote workforce,” said she declared. “It is then essential that the retreat owner consults with this person to ensure that the needs of all participants are recognized and that the desired impact is felt by all participants.”

Exploiting the remote factor

The technical aspects are getting easier, with corporate travel agencies like TripActions and AmTrav launching on new platforms, or specialist startups like NextRetreat entering the market, but Ian Cummings, global head at CWT Meetings & Events, said another trend is to make a corporate retreat more than a week at a hotel. He pleads for more activities and choices before and after the main event.

“Companies are trying to extend the duration of the event and the expenses, because it’s not just about those few days,” he said. “Covid has taught us that taking time out is totally acceptable, whereas before it was just work, work, work.”

His department is looking for ways to create something before arrival, and programs after, such as health and fitness, or individual time.

Meanwhile, Chase Warrington, remote control manager at Doist, a collaboration app, suggests the focus should also be on that individual time during retreats, and has devised a ’50/30/20′ formula for his company, which helps businesses operate remotely.

“Fifty percent is free time and relaxation, 30% coordinated fun activities and 20% work,” he said. “You get that professional look, but it’s not the other way around. It’s a good balance and it works well for me.

He’s also noticed companies looking to more remote locations – away from cities and particularly in Europe and Asia – with a focus on wellness and food, as well as team culture, to add to complexity.

Tracking Guarantee

Going further than marking activities in the days before and after retirement, one expert warned that what happens during retirement shouldn’t stay during retirement.

“There are well-established businesses around booking and travel agencies, but for building employee culture, the learning and development side is lacking,” said Sophie Bailey, who founded WorkTripp in April this year. to address this side of retirement.

“Booking.com is great, but it’s quite transactional. This ignores the coaching needs of an offsite business,” she added. WorkTripp offers a “community network” of coaches, educators and trainers who can help employees with longer-term development needs even after retirement ends, and already counts the Ellen MacArthur Foundation among its clients.

“When remote working is scaled, there are aspects like loneliness and employee burnout. Many hotels and team building websites are largely consumer-driven,” a- she added.

Doist’s Warrington agrees: “How much time you spend on the spot depends on how it plays out over the next few months…I view these touchpoints as the time to bring the team together and realign. on our core values.

TripActions, which recently launched Team Travel to better manage the logistics of large-scale group travel, also thinks a more personal touch is essential. “There is technology that has automated the logistics to improve efficiency, control and safety, but the experiential part of a retreat is best delivered when using a human experienced in managing the program for the retreat,” said Simone Buckley, Vice President of Marketing for Europe, Middle East and Africa.

TripActions offers its clients event specialists who plan corporate retreats, who will have ties with destination marketing organizations, to enjoy unusual, unpromoted experiences. “These specialists would also recommend hosts, speakers to moderators, and help direct the production to ensure it meets its objective,” she added.

This is not only the responsibility of travel management companies, as the luxury travel agency Avenue Two Travel has entered the market.

The agency works closely with clients to understand the retreat’s vision and goals, create lines of communication and streamline processes. This may include destination selection, budget planning, marketing, communication, registration and on-site management.

“The goals are different between a retirement program and an incentive program,” said Kelly Felsing, director of the groups and meetings department at Avenue Two. “A company retreat brings employees together for a mix of meetings with objectives and goals and an employee recognition aspect. Balancing business with fun free time can be difficult.

Companies that can successfully bring their remote and hybrid teams together can improve employee well-being, business innovation and productivity, and boost talent retention and recruitment.

“It’s our job to make customers look like rock stars,” Felsing added.

Sharon D. Cole